RELATIONSHIP FALLING APART? THIS IS PROBABLY WHY.
Communication (or a lack of it) will either be the making of your relationship, or the death of it.
There aren’t enough words in the English language to effectively describe the torrent of unnecessary shit that’s resulted from my inability to effectively communicate my feelings and boundaries with the people I love, and from their inability to do the same.
Let me give you one of my most absurd examples.
Several weeks after Joe had officially asked me out, we had an almighty incident of miscommunication that very nearly resulted in us breaking up – before we’d even had a proper chance to get going.
He’d very recently returned from a six-week lads, lads, lads trip to Bali. Having officially asking me to be his girlfriend when he touched back down in London, his parents had helped him move in to a new flat in Queens Park in the north-west of London (coincidentally, right around the corner from my business partner at the time and her husband).
One morning, shortly after he’d moved in, my boundary-crossing curiosity got the better of me.
Joe had gone off to work early, leaving me alone to do what every new girlfriend feels compelled to do at the start of a new relationship:
Have a good old-fashioned snoop-athon.
Wandering in to the spare room with my freshly poured cup of Nespresso, I spotted a large plastic box on top of the bed that Joe had yet to unpack.
Peering in to the box, I could see a picture frame containing an image of Joe wearing a cowboy hat with his arm around a blonde chick wrapped in a pink feather boa - the kind of mise-en-scene you get from a novelty photo booth at weddings.
My immediate thought was that the picture was of him and I - which was obviously ludicrous, considering that we’d only recently started going out and had never been to a wedding or a fancy dress party.
Naturally, I picked the frame up to inspect it more closely and soon discovered that the picture wasn’t of me at all - it was of his ex-girlfriend from several years ago (I’d already had a good stalk of Joe’s Facebook photos several weeks beforehand to decipher this crucial information).
Even though I questioned why on earth he still had a framed photo of an ex-girlfriend (conveniently failing to remember all the pictures of my own exes still stuffed away in my bedside cabinet at home), my gut instinctively knew that it was totally harmless: he’d clearly just forgotten he had it.
Though we were fairly new lovers, I felt secure enough in our dynamic not to ascribe any significant meaning to this picture’s presence in his flat; I took it as a sign of his absent-mindedness, not his duplicity.
If only I’d have also trusted my initial gut feeling over what I found next.
As I was about to place the photo frame back in to the plastic box, I noticed a small packet of prescription pills that had been lying underneath it.
Unable to stifle my curiosity for a second time, I picked up the packet to read what it said:
15 x Aciclovir 400mg tablets
To treat current outbreak of herpes.
Now, that has got to be up there with one of the most unwelcome revelations you could ever discover about your new partner – especially considering the date on the box was a few short weeks ago.
I opened the packet.
And yet, despite this insanely incriminating evidence, my first instinct was that there had to be some explanation, and that I should call Joe immediately to give him the chance to explain himself.
Instead, though, I allowed my logic and rationale to overrule my gut.
After all, what possible explanation could there be for the fact he’d lied to me?
Like any newly-formed couple in the throes of new love, we’d been bonking like it was going out of fashion.
We’d bonked first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and every time we had a spare ten minutes or so in between.
We’d bonked in his bed, on the sofa, in the car - and a few other places too inappropriate to mention here.
If what I was reading on this packet was accurate – and there was no reason to believe it wasn’t – then I hadn’t only contracted a highly unpleasant genital infection (for life), I’d also been deceived and betrayed by a man that I’d honestly believed to my bones was the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with.
A decent man, a good man.
And this was way more painful to me than the fact I now had Herpes (which, to be fair, quite a few friends had contracted themselves and told me it really wasn’t such a big deal these days).
So, I did what every woman pierced by the sting of betrayal would do following such a gnarly revelation:
I called all of my closest girlfriends.
The responses were very interesting…
Half of them told me that he was clearly a lying scumbag, he’d likely hooked up with someone when he was in Bali, and I should wait until he was in front of me to bring it up so that he didn’t have a chance to concoct a BS story.
The other half echoed my own initial reaction:
That although – granted - it did not look good, there had to be some explanation, because Joe didn’t strike them as the kind of arsehole who’d pull such a cruel stunt.
Unfortunately, the polarized opinions only served to exacerbate my pain and confusion.
I did not want to shroud myself in denial around such blatantly incriminating evidence, as I had done so many times before when information about a boyfriend’s shitty behavior had come to light.
But, I also really didn’t want to lose my faith in this man and our magnificent love story.
Was the whole thing in my head - the insane synchronicity and coincidence of it all?!
Because if it was true, then I hadn’t just mistrusted him, I’d also majorly mistrusted myself – and that was the most painful thing of all.
In the end, the fear in me pipped it to the post.
I decided to wait it out at my friend’s house around the corner and speak to Joe when he was sat directly in front of me, rather than just calling him now to get myself out of this god-awful purgatory.
Which meant that I spent the entire day fretting over how my new genital infection - my new genital infection that I now had for LIFE - was clearly karma having the last laugh by smiting the very thing that had caused myself and others so much grief in the past.
Who the hell would want to date me, now that my vagina was basically poisonous?
I was distraught – not just because of my toxic fanny – but because, by this point, I had enough love and respect for myself that it would be impossible for me to stay in a relationship that had been built on lies.
When I arrived back at Joe’s that evening (to what I thought was going to be our break-up chat) I was in a very somber mood indeed.
However, this was instantly punctured when Joe - happy as a Labrador whose owner had just returned home after a two week vacation – materialized from the bathroom down the hallway, naked as a baby.
It took everything in me not to laugh out loud at the absurdity of the situation.
“Joe, we need to talk,” I said as I stormed past him in to the living room, trying my best to avoid direct eye contact with his deceitful nether-regions.
“What’s wrong babe?” he replied as he walked towards the sofa I’d just plonked myself on to.
“Joe, please can you put some clothes on, I need to have a serious conversation with you.”
A look of dismay washed over him.
“Why can’t I be naked?”
There was no way I could have this discussion with the suspect in question staring at me so brazenly, like Bill Clinton in his infamous televised speech where he insisted he “did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
Hiding in plain sight, I think it’s called.
Well, I REFUSED to be Hillaried!
Getting the hint that I wasn’t messing about, Joe skulked off to the bathroom and returned wearing a towel around his waist. It was the best I was going to get for now.
Without saying a word, I rummaged around in my coat pocket for the packet of pills, and handed it to him.
Confused, he took the packet, turned it over and read the label.
Then furrowed brow.
“Fuuuuuuuuuck,” he said under his breath, throwing his head back and – was that a laugh?!
A moment later, his tone switched.
He held the empty pill packet out towards me and looked directly in to my eyes.
“Persia, trust me, I know how this looks - and I know guys say this sorta shit all the time, but I swear to God, it really-isn’t-what-it-looks-like.”
He didn’t need to say one word more, because I knew instantly that he was telling the truth.
I just knew.
However, I’d be damned if I was going to let him know that just yet.
“Tell me, Joe, what is it then? Because what it looks like to me is that you’ve either had herpes this entire time and not told me, or you fucked someone in Bali and picked it up then. So, which one is it, exactly?” I replied in as condescending a tone as I could muster.
“It’s neither,” he said standing up.
The towel fell to the floor, and he was naked once again – but now the suspect was directly at my eye level, a metre or so from my face.
I put my head in my hands in a bid to look exasperated (though really I was just stifling a giggle).
He walked over to the kitchen counter to pick up his rolling skins and tobacco, then plopped himself back on the sofa opposite me and started rolling a ciggie.
When he’d finished rolling, he put the cigarette behind his ear, clasped his hands in front of his torso as he leaned forwards, and then continued.
“Babe, this is honestly, honestly the truth,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of sex since we met.”
I shrugged my shoulders and looked away.
And after a while, I started feeling really ... sore… on my John Thomas.”
God, I loved this guy, I thought.
He went on to explain how he’d felt too embarrassed to tell me about his sore willy so early on in to our relationship, and how he’d never experienced anything like this before. And how he’d panicked that - considering everything I’d told him about my sordid past – I’d maybe given him something, but he wouldn’t ever dare ask me that out of fear I’d be livid and run a mile.
So, he’d hit up Google - and totally pranged himself out.
Eventually, after hours down the rabbit hole of hellish pictures and testimonials of genital malfunctions, he’d convinced himself it was herpes and promptly ordered some pills off the dark web – which he didn’t even end up finishing.
“I know I should have told you, I’m so, so sorry Persia, I just didn’t want to lose you, and now I’ve fucked it up, anyway.”
One of my favourite qualities of Joe’s is his inability to lie.
Like, he literally cannot lie for shit.
And I knew this was no lie.
As ridiculous as it sounded, I knew it was the truth. Sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction.
My gut instinct was confirmed when we both went to the STD clinic to get checked out the following week.
Turned out, both of us weren’t riddled with anything – other than paranoia.
Joe had every test under the sun – several times in fact, and the result was always the same:
Clean as a whistle.
I mean, talk about much ado about nothing.
Us women tend to forget that the men in our lives can often suffer the same neuroses and spiraling negative thought patterns we do.
And they can also find it just as hard (if not harder) to voice those fears – especially if those fears could in any way bring in to question their masculinity.
So, next time your mind starts to make some very big assumptions about your fella’s integrity – even if the evidence seems overwhelmingly incriminating – I hope Herpesgate serves as a cautionary tale to save you from a fair amount of unnecessary stress:
Talk to your partner about the issue – as soon as it comes up.
Listen to what they have to say in response.
And most importantly, trust your instinct over whether or not they’re telling the truth.
After all, if your instinct can save your life, it can certainly save your love life – even if it doesn’t give you the answer you were hoping for.
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU:
Have you ever jumped to a conclusion about your partner’s integrity?
Or have you ever been in denial about their misconduct, even though you knew the truth deep down?
Please be brave and share your stories with me in the comments below!
All my love,